Why Does My Dog Lick Me In The Morning?
[Our Last Complete Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated June 30, 2021

As dog owners, we know how special it is to start our day with some slobbery and loving kisses from our beloved dog. They have the natural ability to interpret human mood better than any other animal apart from humans themselves. 

Have you ever wondered what your dog is trying to communicate when the licks are on the higher side? Maybe they need something from you. Or it may so happen that you positively responded to the licking in the past. Through licking, dogs may be trying to communicate something that they are otherwise unable to.

In this article, we will provide answers to some of the most common reasons why dogs lick you in the morning, benefits that come from the licking, followed by the health hazards due to this response. So, let’s get started.

Major Reasons Why Dogs Lick You

Before we dive into the driving factors of the dog licking, we need to understand where this behavior originates. Puppies after birth are often licked clean by their mother. 

Canines inherently possess the pack-mentality. Licking that happens within a pack is a sign of peace, affection, and harmony. When a dog licks their owner, it is a subtle way of indicating a pack mindset.

Licking is one of the initial things done by the dog moms after the birth. It also helps them to breathe easily as newborns. These factors make licking a critical aspect of the canine nature.

They Want You for Something

One of the most probable reasons for licking you is that they need to convey a message. For instance, they may be hungry; they want to use the potty. Lack of response from your side would lead to a bit of whining and whimpering from the dog, followed by a sad-eye look and head resting on your torso.

Doggo Alarm Clock

Dogs generally wake up early, and since their day is up and running, they want you to get up too. The morning licks are like an alarm clock to get you out of bed.

Licks are a mode of greeting you, the loving owner, with a warm “Good morning.” They can be pretty insistent in this regard. If you turn away to the other side, they will follow you without fail.

Responding to Positive Reinforcement

Dogs subconsciously behave in a repeated manner because they received some form of appreciation for the same behavior in the past from you. 

You may have given them some treats or a friendly tight hug when they licked you. This sweet memory remains embedded in them, and they expect to receive the same treatment in the future.

When you wake up happy and laugh at their kisses, you are indirectly telling them, “I like you licking me; you make me happy!”. This action is an excellent example of a classical conditioning technique.

Taste of Our Skin

Human skin is filled with salt and oils. After hours of sleeping, the outer surfaces of our skin are brimming in these elements. The oily and salty taste of our skin can appear to be appealing to our canine friends. 

Dogs are tempted to continue licking, in this case, to savor the delicious taste of our morning skin.

Attention Seeking

Dogs have their way of showering affection on their master. Being one of the most loyal animals in the world, they lick your face giving you all the unconditional love in the world they can muster.

They crave your attention and expect some sugar from you in return. The owner’s love and care mean the whole world to them.

Compulsive Behavior

There is the possibility that your dog shows signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Your dog tends to repeat the same behavior like licking you or themselves to relieve stress, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom.

Regular licking is good. But too much repetition can increase their anxiety issues and needs to be treated soon. 

Licking is also a response to physical injuries or pain. They try to heal the ailments via licking repeated on them. As responsible pet owners, we must regularly check their bodies for cuts, infections, or other forms of external injuries. If found injured, it is always recommended to take your dog to a registered vet rather than performing self-treatment, which may aggravate the issue.

These are some of the primary reasons why dogs showcase licking behavior in the mornings.

The Goodness of Doggo Licks

Allowing your canine buddy to lick you has a few benefits attached to them, irrespective of the contrary views.

 

  • When pet dogs lick you first thing in the morning, this action releases a chemical in the brain called Oxytocin, also known as the “feel-good” hormone. It generates a sense of love and warmth in both the human and the dog and positively affects both of your mental health.
  • The licking and kissing help in cementing the owner-pet bond. The dog acknowledges you as their mom/dad and demonstrates a willingness to be loyal and obedient to you.
  • Certain studies have proven that some of the microorganisms transferred to you during the licking can be beneficial in improving your immune system’s functioning.
  • Dogs lick extensively, and they do that for a reason. Their tongues are highly efficient dirt-cleaning tools. So, the licking can help remove unwanted oil, dead skin cells, and other dirt/dust from your morning face.

The canine licking does not seem that bad now, eh?

Although having mentioned these points, there still exist particular concerns around the licking behavior of dogs. Let’s have a look at those in the next section.

Dog Licking Needs Attention

Positive reinforcements to canine licking are not always the best response. Sometimes, this behavior deserves looking into.

  1. If you or any of your family members suffer from some health condition (sickness or injuries), they should not be subjected to licking by dogs. There is a high chance of bacterial/viral transfer that can aggravate your health issue, even though your dog means well. In such cases, some basic obedience training can be an excellent option to refrain your dog from licking more.
  2. Dogs suffering from skin infections or allergies tend to lick themselves more. This condition is not to be ignored. We recommend seeking veterinary consultation at the earliest when you identify signs of the issues mentioned above. These infections can pass onto you when they lick in the morning. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to have yourself checked-up for infections too.
  3. Few breeds like Yorkshire Terrier and Great Dane have an in-built tendency to get excited often and lick the owner due to this excitement. They mean well and at times can not help control their happiness and energy. Once again, systematic training programs and therapy can be an excellent option to calm them down.
  4. Excessive licking can be annoying and repelling for other people around you, like neighbors and house guests. Ensure you give your dog proper obedience training so that this behavior stops immediately around guests and things stay in control.

Ways to Make Your Dog Stop Licking You

If you feel irritated by your dog’s display of excessive love, there are some safe and tested ways you can employ to reduce the licking behavior gradually. 

Ignorance

If you wish to tone down the licking, you can try a few responses, like walking away from your room whenever your dog licks you. This action will make them understand that licks cause you to leave, and they would not want that.

When a behavior goes unrewarded for a while, it will stop soon.

Physical Activity

Engaging your canine pal in regular exercises and outdoor games is an excellent reliever of stress and anxiety. This activity can reduce their urge to lick you repeatedly out of compulsive tendencies.

Providing An Alternative 

Redirecting the licking by providing your dog with an alternate object to chew and lick at can be a smart move. Some good options would be a juicy bone, chew toy, or braided clothes. These items can keep them occupied for several hours or days.

Early Morning Showers

The excess oil and saltiness due to sweat can make your skin enticing to your dog. Avoid giving the dogs such unwanted temptations to lick you by having early morning showers that wash away all the excess salt and oils from your skin.

Change Your Deodorant

Dogs can get attracted to certain scents associated with your deodorant. Changing them once in a while can be a helpful tactic to make your smell not too delicious for your buddy.

Addition of Bitters

If your dog is an obsessive licker, you can give bitters a try. They are non-toxic and proven to be safe for dogs. Although, dogs find its taste repelling. Add a pinch of the same to your skin before you go to sleep at night. Its unappealing taste will reduce the urge to lick you more.

Reinforce Good Behavior

When your dog starts responding to your commands and when the licking begins to reduce, encourage them. Feed them tasty treats, use comforting words, pats, and hugs to let them know that you, their master does not desire the licking.

Wrapping It Up

In general, dogs express things to their owner in various ways; licking is one of the more prominent ones. Licking your face in the morning is fine as long as there is nothing obsessive about this behavior.

If you feel like your dog friend is repeating the licking way too much, attempt to identify the causal trigger behind this. Never shy away from seeking the expert help of dog trainers or veterinary doctors to pinpoint the problem. 

Maintaining good personal hygiene can be a way to lower the frequency of licking. Parallelly, ensure your dog gets sufficient training and reinforcement of good behavior to discourage unwanted licking. 

Please take extra care if there are infants or older people at your home who are more vulnerable to bacterial infections that can arise out of canine licking.